It goes like this:
Check TV guide to see what's on TV.
PBS is showing "1916 - The Irish Rebellion. The story of the Easter Rising rebellion...."
Do a search on something related to that. Irish Volunteers, etc.
Skim various pages.
Start wondering if the U2 song "Bloody Sunday" refers to the Easter Rising.
Do a search.
Oh. There are a whole bunch of Bloody Sundays
One of them: Stanislawow Ghetto Bloody Sunday massacre
, a massacre of 10,000 to 12,000 Jews before the Stanisławów Ghetto announcement.
Read about horrors.
Ghettos, concentration camps, mass killings, mass graves.
Click links; read about more horrors.
I never can wrap my mind around it. In a way, I don't want to. That's why I try to avoid the topic. But for my own sanity, I want to understand it. How could such things happen? How could people come to commit such atrocities? I'm terrified of it happening again. I'm terrified that it is happening, constantly around the world, in smaller versions. How can I be safe? How can I be sure that I'd never be involved in such a thing? What control do I have over the things my government is doing? Am I really any different from the average German civilian back then?
And it also puzzles me, in reading some things, as to why the victims didn't fight back more? Some parts I can understand. If soldiers come for you and your family with guns, yes, you're likely to do what they say rather than to be shot to death right there. Maybe going where they tell you to go, will let you survive in the end.
But I have a hard time understanding the mass shootings. Surely it can't be that 10,000 people would stand together in a crowd, letting themselves be shot to death, for hours on end, as some of those articles imply? Surely they would have surged forward against the shooters, knowing that death was imminent anyway? Were the shooters up on walls? Wouldn't piles of dead bodies would have gotten in the way of further shooting? Did the shooters take breaks so that the bodies could be moved out of the way? Were the Jews so starved and demoralized by that point, that they welcomed death? Who would want to remain living in a world like that?
And it wasn't only Jews being killed. There were mass killings of ethnic Poles too, by both the Nazis and the Soviets. And masses of people being deported to Soviet labor camps. How could mass killings be so common back then? How could people so callously disregard life? Was it a state of mind? That to have revolutions and change society, you need to kill the existing society that stands in your way?
The German side of my family came from the area right near Poland, so that's another reason I'm often drawn to reading about these kinds of things.
After over an hour of that, I managed to make myself to switch gears, and return to doing my taxes.
Read an email about local events.
One event is "South Carolina survivors and victims of the Holocaust".
Am reminded of that first page I read last night. I bring up the page again, and read it again. Again trying to wrap my mind around it. Yesterday wasn't the first time I'd read those kinds of things. But as many times as I read them, it seems I'll never be able to come to terms with them.
Clicked some other links related to the history of Germany before World War II. Republic, unification, Holy Roman Empire, Kingdoms, duchies... All of history seems to be full of wars and fighting and horrors. I've always hated history.
Here I sit, in my peaceful house, in front of my computer. Relatively clean, fed, clothed, and warm. Even if I'm not particularly enjoying life, it's not particularly bad.
But the world is full of horrors, and I'm quietly terrified that someday they will strike me personally, and this relatively peaceful world will be blown to bits.